Thursday, August 21, 2008

25th Death Anniversary of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Today, let us commemorate the 25th death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino. I wasn't born yet in 1983 but here's an interesting read for all of us Filipinos who might be inspired by his courage and faith. Hopefully we can find some answers to our situation today. This was taken from the homily delivered by Fr. Jojo Magadia, at the Church of the Gesu in Ateneo last Sunday.


Homily for the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.
Church of the Gesù, Ateneo de Manila University, 17 August 2008

When I was telling a group of friends about this Mass for the 25th anniversary of the death of Ninoy Aquino, the common reaction was disbelief: “Twenty-five years? Already?”

Even more striking was the conversation that followed. One said, I was driving my car when I heard the news and I felt so heavy and distressed and sad, and there was this strange emptiness inside. Another said, I was just coming out of class, when word spread on the crowded corridors of our school, and many were stunned and confused and outraged. A third one said, I was at home, and a friend called me, and as I heard the news, the tears started coming for reasons I could not understand.

One after another, my friends and I recalled, how each one remembered that day so vividly, where we were, what we were doing, the thoughts and the feelings that hit us when the news broke out, what we did after, how we all found time to fall in line with the millions of Filipinos from all walks of life who paid their respects at Santo Domingo Church, how some of us joined that unforgettable twelve-hour funeral march from Santo Domingo, down España, crossing Quiapo and Luneta, and all the way to Parañaque, singing and praying, as millions more lined the streets in solidarity, chanting “Ninoy, Ninoy!”, dressed in the signature yellow.

I remember feeling so proud of being Filipino and so proud of Ninoy Aquino, and so emboldened by his death, to continue the fight, and to take part in the next three years of nonviolent struggle, and to join the Filipino people in assuring each other with Ninoy’s immortal words, “Hindi ka nag-iisa.” Yes, those were graced days of unimaginable courage, and I consider myself so blessed to have been part of that.

As I look back, I ask myself, how did Ninoy Aquino do it? How did he leave such a mark on many of us? Was it the disbelief and shock that blood was spilled? Was it the incredible audacity of a man who knew he was risking death, and yet went on with such determination? Was it the sacrifice that was so strikingly and powerfully communicated? Was it the dignity that came with courage recovered?

I suggest that there were two fundamental experiences that marked those days--REDEMPTION and CONVERSION.

First, Redemption. In the Old Testament, the idea of redemption boiled down to something quite simple. It had to do with the payment of a price, in order to release the enslaved or imprisoned or oppressed. It had to do with ransom, in order to liberate and grant freedom to one who is held captive. It had to do with setting free from a power that controls, that burdens, that possesses and imposes and dominates, that makes people unable to take their lives into their own hands, and determine their own futures with dignity. The sacrifice of Ninoy Aquino left such a mark on us because it redeemed us who witnessed the boldness and bravery of someone who was willing to give up his life for those he loves.

The Filipino is worth dying for, Ninoy said, and that anchored our actions in those days. It gave us a share in his vision, his daring, his tenacity. It gave us a spirit that was so fresh and infectious. It made us creative, thinking out of the box, in our ways of fighting the injustices of those days, to the point of being playful and even enjoying ourselves. It gave us a staying power that didn’t give in to petty discouragements, through three long years of seeming impasse. It gave us energy and faith to just hang on, no matter what and no matter how long. Ninoy’s death was our ransom, our redemption.

We were saved, because through his sacrifice, we felt a new strength. We were won over by the power of good and righteousness that Isaiah speaks of in today’s First Reading. Observe what is right, says the Lord, and do what is just, for my salvation is about to come. And Ninoy’s sense of what is right and just gave us a new vitality.

Second, Conversion. In that most touching 1973 letter Ninoy wrote to Senator Soc Rodrigo, he recounts his experience of solitary confinement. He was already in prison, when on March 12, 1973, he and the late Senator Pepe Diokno were ordered to get dressed, and thereafter, the two were blindfolded, handcuffed, and flown by helicopter to an unknown destination.

In that letter, Ninoy writes: “When my blindfold was finally removed, I found myself inside a newly painted room, roughly four by five meters, with barred windows, the outside of which was boarded with plywood panels. There was a six-inch gap between the panels and the window frame to allow slight ventilation. There was a bright daylight neon tube that glowed day and night. There were no electric switches in the room, and the door had no knobs, only locks on the outside. The room was completely bare except for a steel bed without mattress. No chairs, tables, nothing.

“I was stripped naked. My wedding ring, watch, eyeglasses, shoes, clothes were all taken away. Later, a guard who was in civilian clothes brought in a bedpan and told me that I would be allowed to go to the bathroom once a day in the morning, to shower, brush my teeth and wash my clothes [two shirts and underwear]…. the intention was to make us really feel helpless and dependent for everything on the guards.”

In those days of solitary confinement, Ninoy reached a point of desperation and desolation, as he questioned the justice of God. He told Soc Rodrigo, “I remembered your famous words: Hindi natutulog ang Diyos…but I felt, at that moment, he was having a very good sound siesta and I was afraid when he finally woke up, I would have been gone! … Would God allow me to die without seeing my family? What terrible crimes have I committed to deserve this fate? The magnanakaws are living it up and I who tried to walk the narrow path of public service with integrity am now about to meet uncertain fate? Is this justice?

And then, something happened. “Suddenly,” Ninoy relates, “Jesus became a live human being.” And he awakened to the truth that in Jesus was “a God-Man who preached nothing but love and was rewarded with death…. who had power over all creation but took the mockery of a crown of thorns with humility and patience. And for all his noble intentions, he was shamed, vilified, slandered, and betrayed.”

“Then as if I heard a voice tell me: Why do you cry? I have gifted you with consolations, honors and glory which have been denied to the millions of your countrymen. I made you the youngest war correspondent, presidential assistant, mayor, vice governor, governor, and Senator of the Republic, and I recall you never thanked me for all these gifts. I have given you a full life, a great wife and beautiful lovable children. Now that I visit you with a slight desolation, you cry and whimper like a spoiled brat!

“With this realization, I went down on my knees and begged His forgiveness. I know I was merely undergoing a test, maybe in preparation for another mission. I know everything that happens in this world is with his knowledge and consent. I knew He would not burden me with a load I could not carry. I therefore resigned myself to His will.”

This, my friends, is conversion. And it is this conversion that we were invited to in those three years of struggle against the dictatorship--a conversion that meant working and giving it our best, but in the end, knowing that we could only depend on God. It was a conversion that meant accepting our limitations, and allowing the Lord to move in and fill in the blanks, and bring all the loose ends together into some unity. It meant surrendering everything, and then allowing ourselves to be surprised by the Lord’s ways, as he would later show so wonderfully at EDSA in 1986.

For Ninoy, and for those who saw his conversion, it also meant embracing the ways of active non-violence, which called for courage and daring. It sought reconciliation, and not the defeat of an adversary. It was directed at eliminating an evil, not destroying an evil-doer. It entailed a willingness to accept suffering for the cause, should it be called for, but never to inflict it. It rejected hatred, animosity or violence of the spirit, in addition to renouncing all forms of physical violence. It demanded a fundamental faith that in the end, justice would prevail. And that is why, the conversion to non-violence also means an openness to even the inclusion of the dogs who depend on the crumbs that fall from the master’s tables, an openness to receiving the aggressor who turns away from his old ways, an openness to reconciliation and forgiveness, after repentance.

As I look at the Philippines today, I feel sad. I am sad about the brazen corruption of many who are supposed to serve in public office.

I am sad about how we Filipinos have become so tolerant of injustice and oppression, and how we do not challenge ourselves enough, and easily let ourselves off the hook. I am sad about how many have given up integrity to claim their share of the booty that the powerful dangle before them.

I am sad that so many of our people have to leave their homes and their families, in search of employment overseas, because the country could not offer them opportunity.

I am sad about the acts of violence all around, from the violence of the criminal, to the violence in Mindanao, to the violence of poverty and hunger and inequality and miseducation. This morning we received news from the Assumption sisters, asking for prayers because of the war that has just begun again in Lanao del Norte.

I feel sad about the greed of those who abuse power, and selfishly cling to it at any cost. And through all this, it is so easy to be discouraged. But if we were to give in to this discouragement, then this commemoration of the sacrifice of Ninoy will have been merely ritual, and nothing more.

Instead, today, I suggest that we are asked to step back for a moment, and look back to the life of this man, twenty-five years after the great sacrifice of his life. We are invited to consider that what Ninoy’s experience really tells us is that the struggle is really not meant to end, that the true offering of self is a daily and ongoing oblation that can only last a lifetime, and that the fight for justice must go on, ever-renewing itself, and ever re-creating itself in the face of new injustices. We are challenged to re-tell the story of Ninoy to our young, those who did not see, firsthand, those years of amazing spirit, and to rekindle in them that fire that burned so strongly in many of us.

My friends, if we are to live through all the difficulties in our country today, if we are to persevere with dignity and determination, we can draw our strength once more from Ninoy, by reclaiming the redemption he offered, and the conversion he shared. This day, we thank the Lord once more for all our Filipino martyrs and heroes, men and women, known and unknown, whose lives have been a great light and a source of hope, that feed into the work of continuing national transformation.

Today, we pray very especially for President Cory Aquino, for healing and for strength. We pray for peace in Mindanao. We ask Ninoy to pray for us and intercede for us, for we know he is with the Lord he sought to serve, the Lord in whose redemption Ninoy participated, the Lord in whose hands we entrust our lives and our loves, confident that he will bring us his peace. Amen.


Ramon said...


Try to get hold of a copy of the homily of Fr. Joe Blanco, SJ at the Sto. Domingo church right after Ninoy Aquino was buried. He called for civil disobedience against Marcos, his cronies and their businesses. It lays the foundations for EDSA'86 and Fr. Jojo's homily.


nica said...

I wasnt born yet either! But he was really a hero. I could only imagine, if ever he is alive today, what he would think of what's happening to Philippines. I think he'd be sad. But of course, there's always hope.

Anonymous said...

I attended this mass last Sunday and I didn't know it would be for the celebration of Ninoy's death. The homily made me sad and at the same time hopeful that some of us would let his actions be an inspiration.

Anonymous said...
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KimF and JudzSJ said...

We agree that he was truly a hero. And we hope that there's gonna be another Ninoy Aquino in our time today. One who can stand up for the Philippines and speak for the Filipinos who can't for theirselves. Hahaha :D

deboz said...


you did an excellent job today against the red warriors.

10-1, keep it up to the finals!=)

God bless you guys!

almira said...

I'm also not yet existing during that time. Reading the homily made me realize such things. It's been 25 years na pala. In our C.L.E. book there's an article about Ninoy Aquino and how he fought for what is just and right. He is really inspiring.

Anna said...

The tragedy of his death is that despite his sacrifice our redemption was only short lived. We still live in a country that is riddled with corruption and worse, infected with apathy and indifference.
This country needs a new hero. Someone who can remind us that the Filipino is worth dying worth. A lot of us, myself included, seem to have forgotten.
Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking homily.

True Blue Lyle said...

i just realized that you're also sensitive with regards to our political situation anyways, it is a good thing people like you also looking towards it. may you inspire other people as well as the gov official to do good and make this nation a better one.

Vianca said...

thanks for sharing the homily with us :) really appreciate your effort of doing apostolate :)

eldy said...

I hope I was born in the year 1983 to witness Ninoy's heroic deeds. Unfortunately, I was born after 8 years x]. Your blog for Ninoy was really great! If Ninoy reads this he'll be touched =). Godbless and Take care Always Chris =)

Maan :) said...

Oh I was there in that mass, and Fr. Magadia's homily really had me listening. I'm only 17, born long after Ninoy died and personally, I feel that we in this generation should give more effort to know about his story. It's kinda sad to see my peers being apathetic about this part of history. They don't really care as much as they should. And sometimes, that goes for everything else that's happening in the country right now. Haaaaay. Is the Filipino still worth dying for? I sure hope so...

By the way, GREAT game today against UE. My friends and I all rushed from school just to be in Araneta in time. Hahaha. I was really scared you might actually lose.:-s But you were AMAZING. That three-point shot? Greaaaat Job. :D One big fight!

jelly anj said...

i wasn't born yet during that time too, but i remember my dad saying that we need another Benigno Aquino, Jr. - someone brave enough, someone as smart or smarter, and someone who's as God-fearing as him. sad to say though, no other man seems to exist - well you almost do - would you mind being that one person? - it's up to you if you'll take me seriously though. ^_^

but come to think of it Chris, don't you think that at this point, we need a little bit of the dictatorship that Marcos has implemented during those days? I'm emphasizing "SOME" as I don't agree with the whole thing. it's just that, there were less crimes during those days, and i believe that graft and corruption was also considerably lesser than today's. but then again, I'm not really an expert with Philippine history. those are just my thoughts, as I remember that my previous college professor had a thesis paper during her days on why Marcos was the best president the Philippines has ever had.

that's why lots of today's youth admire you Chris. you're one of today's youth worth admiring. congrats on your game against UE! stay humble as the Ateneo Blue Eagles soar!

Nette said...

The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge of our faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair...

We often ask why, why this? why me? why now?...
if we have a "why" to live for, you can bear with any "how"...

"God cannot use mightily the man whom he has not wounded deeply."

Take care Chris!...

toshi123 said...

Very enriching and inspiring blog entry Chris! Yes, it's been 25 years since his gruesome assasination, but his legacy still continues to live forever. I may not have been born during the Martial Law era, but I felt for him and his family, because he was presumed guilty by the powers that be at the time, eventhough he never did a single thing that he was being accused of at that time. They wanted to humiliate him, because they thought that he will be brought down to his knees and beg for mercy. One thing I admire about Ninoy is his ability to speak in public very spontaneously (without any "kodigo", mind you), and his witty sense of humor! This is one trait his daughter, Kris (also a favorite of mine) inherited from him. I know that there is a Ninoy in each of us, and what better time to show it than now. Chris, thank you so much for always taking the time to post blogs like this despite your busy schedule. Like Ninoy during his time, you also inspire the youth of today to do their best =) Carry on, Chris! =)

kathrina said...

may napanood po akong program about kay ninoy yesterday,, ch.4.. he is truly inspiring.. sa totoo lng, dahil dun sa palabas na un, nun ko lng xa narinig magsalita at ung boses nya.. (i was born on 1987 kc.. hehe!)
but that program was truly nice.. very inspiring and educative lalo na dun sa mga youths na di tlaga xa inabutan...

Anonymous said...

Omg. I cried. ='(

I cried while reading every powerful words. Ninoy will forever be in the hearts of every faithful Filipino. Thanks for including your prayers here in Mindanao. I do hope so there will be another Ninoy to come and redeem us again.

i was so moved by that/
btw, great game against UE!
God Bless Chris! -diane

reya said...

it's very beautiful and inspiring. thanks a lot for sharing it :)

Anonymous said...

hey chris!

you might want to check out this website:

it gives suggestions on how we can all participate in continuing ninoy's legacy.


Rin said...

I was still in my mother's womb when Ninoy was shot. And until now, my mom tells me a lot of good and great things about him - courageous, smart and kindhearted person. The tragedy of his death truly inspired the people during his days - and hopefully, the young ones of our generation. He is such a hero - and always will be.

Jeri said...

I read the newspaper yesterday and I learned about this "seeing the world through Ninoy's eyeglasses". A thought came into my mind. Maybe if all Filipinos can see our country like Ninoy did, then all of us will dream of leaving something - something exceptional, something significant, something worth remembering - to our motherland before we leave and return to our Creator. If that's what we aim for, Filipinos would be more peaceful loving, more hardworking and more hopeful for our country.

I hope people especially the young ones today will learn the greatness of Ninoy Aquino. They shall continue the fire that Ninoy started burning (or has the fire died already?), through their own little ways. It doesn't really require 'dying for the country', but more of 'living with a life of selfless service for the country'.

haylin said...

You got me there Chris! Your right, political situations nowadays are really incredible.. Thinking all of these made me stepped up and dramatic too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you made me and others inspired.. If we wont fight today, then Ninoy Aquino's heroic deeds are lost and useless..

dollyxzh said...

this was a nice post..
very nice of you to share it with us..=]


Nerie said...

Thank you for sharing it with us. c:

Yes, Ninoy was truly great and inspiring. And I also believed that his death saves us from being enslaved.

With this remembering, may the people, especially the youths, profound the meaning of sacrifice Ninoy gave us. And may these heroic deeds serve and smear our countrymen forever.

I’m glad to hear these virtuous words from you. You know you also made us realized and enthused by knowing that people like you see the other side of our country and offer the victim and abused people a prayer. Hope that people in our country might see the light and love and discontinue the war. Especially, to our respected and accountable public servant will make step to help their countrymen and their nation to look and move forward by preventing the corruptions and other wrong doings with themselves first. And by always believing that keeping our faith and love with God, the justice and peace will be in power.

Nice entry Chris!
God bless you always for having a good heart.

Btw, congratulation for winning the game against UE! It was truly awesome performance.

Love lots,
Nerie. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.. can i copy it?!? i mean the homily of Fr. Joe Blanco, so i can share it with my other friends too.. if it is oki with you.. as in kung oki lang nman.. ^_^

Selene said...

Hi Chris,

Praying that every reader of your blog will begin to desire, aspire and experience the conversion Ninoy Aquino experienced that empowered him to go beyond himself for the greater good and go on his hunger strike. What happened next is history. Conversion enables the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus' Spirit, to heal our hearts and work through us to achieve a purpose beyond our limited vision and abilities - as Jesus did.

Can we all imagine what the Philippines will look like if all 90% of us who call ourselves Christians truly experience conversion?

Take care Chris. Thanks for leading.


Anonymous said...

hi chris .. you know what as i was reading ur blog about Mr. Benigno Aquino i almost cry .. ang dami kng narealize .. kahit di pa ku pinapanganak that time na kwento na sakin ng naynay ku ung nangyari .. swerte talaga mga filipino dahil maraming nagmamalasakit sa atin at marami tayong bayani .. lam mo wish ku rin maguing hero hehehehe kahit sa maliit na paraan lang ..

kaya enjoy aku magbasa ng blog m eh marami aku natutunan ..

goodluck sa next game nyu ha ..
hehehehe mikikisigaw din aku ng "GET THAT BALL" gogogogogo .....

sorry kung tgalog ha .. hehehe

dianne said...

Hi Chris,
I've read this entry many times already but I Only had the chance to write a comment regarding this.
I idolize Ninoy just like everybody else, he's a very great person. A hero may be. He tried hard to save us from dictators but the incident happened first before he could successfully relive the Philippines. He was shot, right after he stepped on the Philipinne ground. I was a baby then, only a few months old I think, but whenever i read an article about Ninoy, fell proud of him...An d i feel proud that i'm a Filipino...


Mavy said...

We had our KALIPI(Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas) GA during Ninoy's death anniversary to give tribute to his heroic deeds... I knew, Ninoy was one of the Liberals who's a testimony of rationalism when it comes to political issues.

Makulay talaga politika, wala pa rin ako sa mundo nung time na yan eh, pero parang timely pa rin yung issues noh...

I enjoyed reading this post. ;)

lee said...

check out :)

Fr. Abe, CRS said...

Dear Chris,

Grace and Peace be upon you!

Thank you very much for sharing us this gem of a homily of Fr. Joe Blanco, SJ.

Since I was in my high school days I already love and admire our National Hero, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Because I grew up under the Martial Law regime. I was not active in anti-Marcos activities that time because I was too young then. But we were aware on what was happening in the country, how the people in powers were using the money of the people as if it was their personal fund. I believe that the so-called corruptions happening now are still nothing in comparison with what were happening then.

During my teenage life, when the president was delivering his speech all radio and tv channels were cancelling their programs in order to give way to the president and nobody dared to oppose for fear of closure. Now our opposition leaders are free to criticize and even attack the President but during those times no opposition leaders were being interviewed on TV. Later on I have found out that Ninoy and the opposition leaders such as Diokno and others were either in prison or in exile.

I was second year High School when Ninoy was martyred and his death like the death of the great Jose Rizal removed the fear out of the citizenry. Millions of people lined up the Sto. Domingo Church to pay their last respect to his remains. And his funeral was attended by two million people and lasted 11 hours. From that day on the power of the Dictorship started to crumble until the four Glorious and Miraculous Days of EDSA PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION.

It is a pity that the heroic deeds and the sacrifices of Ninoy and the rest of our heroes are already lost to many of the younger generations. And thank God that a very popular basketball star and a celebrity like you promotes the importance of knowing our Hero. I pray that more young people will be like you: God-fearing and deeply in-loved with his country and its ideals.

Keep up the good work young man. My prayers and blessing to you and to your family. And, CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR VICTORY IN THE UAAP.

In Jesus and Mary,

Rev. Fr. Abe P. Arganiosa, CRS
Chaplain, Aemilianum College of Sorsogon City

pretzel_ela said...

I do not know much about the tragedy that happened to Sen. Ninoy but upon reading this homily i was again touched by the goodness of the Lord. Thank you for posting this homily.
You are really a good man.
May the Lord Our God bring peace, protection and more blessings to you and your family.

P.S. I will always include you in my prayers and please do read this chapter in the Bible "Psalm 91".

God bless you always kuya chris!^_^

-ading ela

miel said...

I love this article. I know it has been posted for quite some time now, but I only get to see it just now. (So I'm sorry if this comment may seem to be some sort of a late reaction) But I still want to say, good job on this one, very well said.

I feel how you feel about what's happening to our country. It's really sad. But I'm glad there are still some sensitive people like you whom I think can make a difference somehow.


Anonymous said...

I am not a filippino but I have the greatest respect for the late Benigno Aquino. He was a brilliant speaker, he did not abandon his people but returned to Philippine only to be assassinated.

Do you know of any politician that would die for his or her country? I only know of one man and he is none other than the late Senator B. Aquino.

It was very sad when I mentioned to a filipino friend who is in her 30's about the great deed B.Aquino and what he did for his country, she said she is not interested in politics. However, I am glad to read on your blog that so many of you young filipino much younger than my friend appreciate and are touched by him.

I hope the present president, son of the late Benigno Aquino will do what his father would have done had he been alive today. All the best to people of the Philippine.